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#1
Old 06-21-2009, 11:59 AM
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Walk me through a homeless person's day

Many of us see homeless people walking the streets, but I am curious how the day of a homeless person goes, and what resources they use to survive. Where do they eat, where do they sleep, where do they get clothing, where do they go to the bathroom? What happens if they get sick? Are homeless women under constant threat of being raped?

As a caveat in this discussion in using the term homeless, I don't mean someone sleeping in a shelter for a few weeks so they can get things straightened out. I mean the hardcore homeless you see wandering the streets during the day or camped out under a tarp in the woods.
#2
Old 06-21-2009, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astro View Post
Many of us see homeless people walking the streets, but I am curious how the day of a homeless person goes, and what resources they use to survive. Where do they eat, where do they sleep, where do they get clothing, where do they go to the bathroom? What happens if they get sick? Are homeless women under constant threat of being raped?

As a caveat in this discussion in using the term homeless, I don't mean someone sleeping in a shelter for a few weeks so they can get things straightened out. I mean the hardcore homeless you see wandering the streets during the day or camped out under a tarp in the woods.
I'm no expert, but I'd really appreciate any insight actual homeless people might have. So, homeless people, stop being lazy and type out the log of your daily happenings.

I wait with bated breath for their responses. ^_^
#3
Old 06-21-2009, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astro View Post
Where do they eat, where do they sleep, where do they get clothing, where do they go to the bathroom? What happens if they get sick? Are homeless women under constant threat of being raped?
.
Not being homeless but having been on a few committees and such to study the homeless problem, here's a few things:

They get some free meals and free food (like beans, rice, american cheese). They buy some fast food, they cadge some. Hunger is rare, malnutrition is not so rare.

They sleep in a doorway, or alley, or a lot in the back ways of parks, where there likely is a little tent town set up, not legal, but not being closed down either.

Clothing- they get plenty of free used clothing, but socks are in high demand. People don't donate used socks.

They go to the bathroom in a public bathroom (in like a park), in the alley or behind a tree. They will wash up in there too.

If they are sane enough to think about it, they go to the ER at the County hospital. This costs the taxpayers a lot of $$. If they aren't- someone might call 911 or they just die in a alleyway. Medical care they can get, dental care is tough.

In a tent city, it's not so bad for the women,they often have a "boyfriend' who will protect them. If they are attractive they may well be hookers, at least PT.

Many homeless have a income, often Social security disability- a lot of them blow their whole check on cigs and booze or drugs. They can get Food stamps.

There is often housing for them, but many hardcore homeless hate it due to the rules- they have to be fairly clean, no smoking, drinking, drugs or pets. They also are allowed only so much "stuff".

Basically there are three groups of homeless: The "one paycheck away from being homeless" person who lost that paycheck- they often live in their car, or sometimes in real campgrounds in tents. They want help to get a job and back into a home.

The "I prefer the freedom" who don't want to operate within society.

and the insane or drugged out who can't operate within society
#4
Old 06-21-2009, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth
<SNIP>Clothing- they get plenty of free used clothing, but socks are in high demand. People don't donate used socks.<SNIP>
An interesting insight. I wear my socks until they have holes in them, then throw them out. It never even occurred to me how this impacts the needy. Now I'll have to think about it a little - I may end up buying a boatload of socks for donation.
#5
Old 06-21-2009, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashman165 View Post
I'm no expert, but I'd really appreciate any insight actual homeless people might have. So, homeless people, stop being lazy and type out the log of your daily happenings.

I wait with bated breath for their responses. ^_^
Actually, IIRC there are some board members who have been "homeless" for stretches, this came up in a thread many moons ago about what to give "beggars" if you didn't want to give money ... fruit I think was the answer.

And here is the thread, may give you some insight astro.
#6
Old 06-21-2009, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Khadaji View Post
Now I'll have to think about it a little - I may end up buying a boatload of socks for donation.
And then go to dental school.

I used to work at a liquor store which services the needs of homeless here in Simi Valley, Calif. Here in Simi, the life of the homeless person ain’t so bad. This isn’t downtown L.A.—you don’t have to worry about getting shot or knifed for five bucks around here. Basically, DrDeth covered all the bases. They get their welfare/SSI/disability checks the first week of the month, and anybody who is savvy enough to cash them will get their business, and lots of it. We made sure that we had several thousand on hand the day they came in with their checks, and they would return the favor by cleaning us out of booze, cigs, junk food, toilet paper, soap, and batteries, pretty much in that order. The medical plan is a pretty good one. One of our resident bums had an uncommon cardiac condition which he was told couldn’t be treated properly locally. They told him that that he should move to Oxnard, Calif. and be homeless there, because they had better facilities there to treat him.

There’s not much to do for entertainment when you’re homeless, so most of the day they just aimlessly walk or bike around town with their dogs. That’s all they do—just walk around. Don’t start a conversation with them unless you have plenty of time to kill, ‘cuz they’ll talk your ear off out of sheer boredom. If you mention that you don’t have a job, they’ll frequently invite you over for dinner and drinks and teach you the ropes, if need be. If you can, bring something for their dogs—they’ll appreciate that.

Last edited by Washoe; 06-21-2009 at 02:58 PM.
#7
Old 06-21-2009, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khadaji View Post
An interesting insight. I wear my socks until they have holes in them, then throw them out. It never even occurred to me how this impacts the needy. Now I'll have to think about it a little - I may end up buying a boatload of socks for donation.
Yes, when we heard about it we bought a case of cheap socks, and handed them out along with the fliers and stuff. Very popular booth.

Another odd thing- homeless dudes don't care much for apples- bad teeth make apples problematic. We found that out also. But bananas are good. Individually wrapped snaks are popular also, as Washoe sez.

I missed one small group of homeless- the day worker, often an illegal alien. When work is good they get together and rent a cheap motel room, often 4-8 guys in one room. But when work is slow they stay in the tent towns.
#8
Old 06-21-2009, 09:52 PM
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In a city where I used to live I think there was some kind of program where poor people receiving outpatient care through the local mental hospital could get free bus passes. I don't know the details, but I rode the bus a lot myself and it was obvious that there were a number of homeless mentally ill people who'd just ride around all day. Many probably had a shelter to go to at night but had to be out during the day, and while riding a bus isn't much it must be safer and more comfortable than hanging out on the street.

Last edited by Lamia; 06-21-2009 at 09:52 PM.
#9
Old 06-21-2009, 11:29 PM
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If one is homeless, where do you get said SSI Disability checks, etc. sent to?
#10
Old 06-21-2009, 11:30 PM
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They hang out in the public library, use the computers for Internet entertainment, do a little reading, maybe a puzzle, use the bathroom, take a nap, etc. Talking to the librarian is a popular pastime. One guy I know likes to go through phonebooks.
#11
Old 06-22-2009, 12:10 AM
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and the insane or drugged out who can't operate within society
You know....I've always wondered what percentage of " mentally ill" street people are classicly mentally ill, or more drugged out mentally ill. I have to say....I honestly think that we need to go back to mental hospitals. Activists can yap on and on about the wonders and glories of being included in (trumpet blare) MAINSTREAM SOCIETY (/trumpet blare), but there is the fact that there are just mentally ill people who are just so sick, they can't function outside of a hospital/insistutional setting. It's better that they live in a place where they can be taken care of and get meds......And I think there should be some sort of law saying that you shouldn't be able to spend disabilty money on liquor or tobacco....sorry but that's redic!
#12
Old 06-22-2009, 12:26 AM
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Another place that I've noticed them spending time during extreme heat, cold or inclement weather is public areas of some hospitals. Around here, if the temp goes much above 90 or below freezing, you're apt to see a couple stretched out on chairs or benches there, bags by their sides.
#13
Old 06-22-2009, 01:11 AM
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For my life as a teen street kid.

8:30 am to about 9:49am: wake up somewhere with friend(s), collect and account for all belongings in case a "friend" stole something while you were sleeping, look for place to use washrooms that they will let you in to, use washroom both to use the toilet and to wash your socks, face and anything else you need to wash in the sink. Usually requires you have enough change to buy a coffee and perhaps a breakfast item, so you may need to beg for change.

10:00am: Get kicked out of place with public washroom, find place to beg for change.

10:01 to 11:59, keep moving while you try to beg for change for lunch, because you can't stay still anywhere or business and police will ask you to leave. Collect at most $3 since everyone with money is at work, start walking towards a shelter that serves lunch.

noon to 12:30 listen to preaching about how believing in Jesus will make all your troubles disappear, while silently rolling your eyes since you have heard this so many times it is now a joke.

12:30 to 12:59pm finally eat small ham sandwich and orange tang for lunch again, and leave to find public washroom since the church bathroom is "occupied".

1:00 to 1:59 drink coffee in fast food joint, and convince them to begrudgingly let you use the public washroom.

2:00 to 4:59pm wander around begging for change for food, beer, etc. Perhaps take a break in the library and have a nap or read the paper, find public park where you can quickly nap without police kicking you out, if it is cold, buy a ticket on public transportation since they have a heater, and nap on the train.

5:00 to 6:59pm - busy time for begging! Get out there & beg hard - you can't go to the church for dinner, unless you want to sleep outside!

7:00 pm count change, and perhaps buy fast food for dinner, see if you have enough for skeevy hotel which has a courtyard where people throw used needles & condoms!

A - 7:01 pm to 10:30 am If you have enough for hotel for you and a friend (remember never to be alone - and these hotels change you way more for double occupancy), get it & get your key, and then get back to the street but they lock that door at 11, so be FAST if you want some beer or more food. Possibly get kicked out for having an extra friend in the room, listen to druggies next door fight, and other fun noises. Sleep onto of covers in your sleeping bag after washing everything you own in the sink & having a shower. Finally watch TV & fall asleep with it on because you can't sleep when it is quiet any more. Sleep till 10:30 am when hotel knocks on door to kick you out. Do it all over again, but cleaner & with a bit more rest.

B - 7:30 pm to ???? beg for change to afford a few beers before bed, or more food, or some drugs to make sleeping in the squat or outside not as bad, or hope that a friend can sneak you into a room. Catch up with friends who may have become prostitutes, perhaps babysit a teen runaway and try to convince them to go home, perhaps get beaten up by jock types or other thugs who don't like homeless people, perhaps have a fight with another homeless friend, finally get so tired/drunk/high at about 2-3:00 am that you don't care where you sleep & eventually find place to sleep outside or in a squat, sleep in group of friends wearing all your clothes, and do it all over again.
#14
Old 06-22-2009, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Marconi & Schmeese View Post
If one is homeless, where do you get said SSI Disability checks, etc. sent to?
PO box, General Delivery, or even a homeless advocacy agency.
#15
Old 06-22-2009, 02:03 AM
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Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post

Basically there are three groups of homeless: The "one paycheck away from being homeless" person who lost that paycheck- they often live in their car...
I was this person once, very briefly. A little over a week. In that short experience, I was suprised at how difficult it is to live in your car without being harrassed by cops or security personnel. I'm not sure how a person does it. Anywhere you park, shopping mall, library, parking garage, you name it, I never slept through the night even once without parking lot security or a cop tapping on the window. Security just tells you to move on and that particular place is no longer ok to park and sleep. Cops of course question you, run your license etc. and tell you to leave.I'm sure if I had even a misdemeanor, I would have been arrested and my car towed. Then I would have been truly screwed had my jobless period become long term and no way to get my car back.

Are there any acceptable places for a person to sleep in a car?

As a side note: that experience years ago permanently burned in my brain the absolute necessity of having some sort of savings safety net.

Last edited by Quintas; 06-22-2009 at 02:07 AM.
#16
Old 06-22-2009, 02:19 AM
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In threads about the homeless, it's often mentioned about them spending time at the library. I've never noticed this at my own libraries, but I've always wondered how librarians deal with this issue. The merely homeless might not be an issue, but extremely unhygenic people or people with mental problems could be awkward to deal with. What do they do?
#17
Old 06-22-2009, 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by jackdavinci View Post
In threads about the homeless, it's often mentioned about them spending time at the library. I've never noticed this at my own libraries, but I've always wondered how librarians deal with this issue. The merely homeless might not be an issue, but extremely unhygenic people or people with mental problems could be awkward to deal with. What do they do?
Eject these people for violating library rules, calling the cops to help if necessary. Almost all urban library systems now have published rules for conduct by patrons (homed and homeless alike) which limit time spent on computers, bans sleeping, bans using the restrooms for bathing purposes or befouling the bathrooms, and bars patrons with a strong personal odor.
#18
Old 06-22-2009, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Quintas View Post
As a side note: that experience years ago permanently burned in my brain the absolute necessity of having some sort of savings safety net.
If you’re desperate and absolutely can’t abide the thought of being out on the street, apply for a job with a National Park concessionaire. The working and living conditions are so deplorable that they’ll literally hire anybody.
#19
Old 06-22-2009, 07:49 AM
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I'm an organizer with the Ottawa Panhandlers' Union, a shop of the Industrial Workers of the World. I also spent a year homeless, myself, about 15 years ago. I can speak, therefore, from both personal and professional experience.

Homelessness is a complex issue. There is no such thing as a "generic" homeless person. Each has her or his own story, and the stories, while often having common themes (I'll get to that in a moment) are many and varied. Asking "What do homeless people do with their days," reveals an underlying belief that they can be lumped together in a single homogenous group. It's like asking, "What do women really want?" or "Why are there so many black criminals?" It diminishes the humanity of the group by denying their individuality, and so should be avoided.

As I indicated earlier, while each has her or his own story, there are some common themes. The most common of these themes are: sexual abuse, addictions. lifeskill difficulties, and mental illness. These often overlap; most have one or two, some have all four. In nearly all cases, what you find is that a homeless person lacks the social networks of those who have been able to retain housing. We found, when we started asking, that the majority of people on the street grew up in group homes. Think about that. While the number of people who grow up in group homes is a miniscule portion of the population, they make up the actual gross majority of people on the street. This is the biggest hint that homelessness is strongly linked to a lack of accessible resources which others take for granted, such as friends, parents, and family. In other words, the reason another person is homeless and you are not is largely because you operate with an invisible safety net which they do not have.

Once you understand all of this, you begin to see how the homeless spend their days: trying to obtain the resources you take for granted. These resources range from things you can probably imagine (finding a place to sleep, obtaining food and money) to things which would probably never occur to you (seeking entertainment for an otherwise grim existence, or trying to connect with an endless list of government functionaries from social workers to parole officers). The year I spent homeless, most of my time was spent either lining up (lining up for food, lining up for shelter, lining up for a welfare cheque, lining up to see a social worker, etc.) or trying to catch a bit of sleep somewhere before being caught and forced to move on.

Being poor is expensive and the poorer you are, the more expensive it becomes. This is because you can't buy in bulk, you can't transort anything large, you can't own anything of any value (since it gets lost or stolen), and you have no way of keeping perishable goods fresh. Restaurants won't give you water, so you have to buy drinks. No one will let you use their bathroom unless you buy something there. Fast food is the only thing you can eat which doesn't require preparation which isn't possible on the street. And heaven help you if you have addictions, because you're the low man on the totem pole: by the time your substance of choice filters down to you, it's been through the hands of so many middlemen that you're paying double or triple what a college kid in the suburbs would pay. All this means you spend a long time hustling on the street. Whether that means panhandling and trying to dodge police, or chopping (subdividing your drugs and trying to find someone even more desperate than you to pay even more for it), or boosting (shoplifting), or sucking dodgy people off in an alley, it all takes a lot of time -- and it's all risky and unpleasant.

One other note I'll add here is that being homeless isn't black or white. Many of our members in the Panhandlers' Union are what's referred to as "marginally housed." That means they're living in crappy rooming houses or surfing couches, and generally paying so much for it that they are always on the verge of homelessness. A single unexpected expense, such as being robbed or getting sick and needing medicine means they're out on the street again. Here in Ontario, welfare will pay up to $540 for a single person. Rent for a room starts at $450 here in Ottawa, and a two bedroom apartment starts at $1000. You can see that ANYONE on welfare is marginally housed, and can be expected to end up on the street at some point. And the same deadly cocktail of mental illess, addiction, shortage of lifeskills, lack of social network, and poor education which causes a person to end up on welfare conspires to keep that same person on the street, hustling.
#20
Old 06-22-2009, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quintas View Post
I was this person once, very briefly. A little over a week. In that short experience, I was suprised at how difficult it is to live in your car without being harrassed by cops or security personnel. I'm not sure how a person does it. Anywhere you park, shopping mall, library, parking garage, you name it, I never slept through the night even once without parking lot security or a cop tapping on the window. Security just tells you to move on and that particular place is no longer ok to park and sleep. Cops of course question you, run your license etc. and tell you to leave.I'm sure if I had even a misdemeanor, I would have been arrested and my car towed. Then I would have been truly screwed had my jobless period become long term and no way to get my car back.

Are there any acceptable places for a person to sleep in a car?

As a side note: that experience years ago permanently burned in my brain the absolute necessity of having some sort of savings safety net.
Never had a problem finding a place to sleep in my car when I was homeless for a few months at the age of 18. With a blanket suspended over the front seat headrests and the back seat to act as a tent, I slept in Wal-Mart parking lots, side streets where on-street parking was the norm, truck stop parking lots, and highway rest stops. (Helped to live near an interstate and have a rest stop perhaps 5 miles away.) The truck stops were nice, since they often had showers available when I awoke.

People just assume you're a driver who's taking a power nap when you're asleep at a truck stop or rest stop, and Wal-Marts are common nap places for RVers and other travelers. As for those side streets, don't know why I was never hassled... I suppose it was because I was usually near a university, and people just assumed I was a student getting some sleep. Heck, as a student now, I often will sleep in my car for a few hours here and there in campus parking lots and garages, and still don't get bothered.
#21
Old 06-22-2009, 09:05 AM
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I was "homeless" for short period in Las Vegas. My experience was different from Quintas as I had no trouble sleeping in my car at shopping centers in the day. When I parked, I made sure I had 3 cars (one in front and two on the side) to hide from any security cameras. If I was asked why I was there, which I was never was despite being there 5-6 hours. I would have responded that I was waiting for someone who was shopping. I changed shopping centers daily. At night, I'd park my car in a casino parking lot and spend the night walking the Strip. Walking the western side is safer as you can walk from casin to casino through bridges as opposed to east side where you out on the street. I ate at the buffets with what little funds and washed up in gas stations after buying a gallon to get the key. I did use some money to gamble and did win enough to get a room and two buffets meals a day by day 4. The situation that put me in this situation, which I won't go into here, was resolved by day 8. I was fortunate that this was during the winter and not the hot summer. Also, that I had a car, some funds, and "lucky" at the tables.
#22
Old 06-22-2009, 09:20 AM
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I'll tell you what my library patrons do all day. These are chronically homeless people downtown in a state capital, medium sized city. Obviously, I'm not as familiar with what the ones who don't come to the library do.

7:00 - Kicked out of shelter. Go stand in front of library doors.
9:00 - Library opens. If you have a library card through fair means or foul, race to the computers. If not, race to the newspaper. We have three copies of the daily paper and they're out all day, with constant little petty fights about it. Why they don't read one of the millions of books we also have, I don't know.
11:30 - Start heading towards one of the church free lunches. They kind of rotate, but there are usually at least two going around, anywhere from a block or two to maybe two blocks. Not more than a mile.
2:30 - back to the library
7:00 - Head to the shelters. Once they fill up that's it, so if it's cold or raining or whatever they might all be gone by 6 or so to line up. The city opens a winter shelter when it gets cold, but the rest of the year Oliver Gospel Mission houses most of the guys I see.
9:00 - We kick out the ones who don't go to the shelters at closing. They're a real minority, though.

Now, at the beginning of the month we won't see most of them, because many get some sort of check (pension, disability, etc.) and they check into cheap hotel rooms, often with as much liquor or whatever as they can afford, until the money runs out. Say a week. Of course we're busier in the rain, in the cold, or when it gets over 95 or so. And of course we won't see the kind of homeless people you see pushing shopping carts or carrying a ton of stuff, because they wouldn't be allowed to bring it into the building. So it's a small segment of the population, but I'd say I recognize maybe 70% of the people I see on the street from the library.

Mostly it just seems like an incredibly boring life. Almost none of them read anything but the newspaper, they ignore the people who used to come in looking for day laborers, they don't do anything that seems intellectually or emotionally fulfilling at all. Which I don't get, because you're in the middle of an enormous downtown public library and there is stuff to do!
#23
Old 06-22-2009, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by AboutAsWeirdAsYouCanGet View Post
You know....I've always wondered what percentage of " mentally ill" street people are classicly mentally ill, or more drugged out mentally ill.
In Indianapolis - about 20%.
Quote:
I have to say....I honestly think that we need to go back to mental hospitals. Activists can yap on and on about the wonders and glories of being included in (trumpet blare) MAINSTREAM SOCIETY (/trumpet blare), but there is the fact that there are just mentally ill people who are just so sick, they can't function outside of a hospital/insistutional setting.
You will be hard-pressed to find anyone that disagrees with you in the activist community. Why did you assume you wouldn't?
#24
Old 06-22-2009, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by AboutAsWeirdAsYouCanGet View Post
I have to say....I honestly think that we need to go back to mental hospitals. Activists can yap on and on about the wonders and glories of being included in (trumpet blare) MAINSTREAM SOCIETY (/trumpet blare), but there is the fact that there are just mentally ill people who are just so sick, they can't function outside of a hospital/insistutional setting. It's better that they live in a place where they can be taken care of and get meds....!
This is America, where you also have the right to be insane. What you suggest is locking dudes up because someone thinks they are mentally ill.
#25
Old 06-22-2009, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
This is America, where you also have the right to be insane. What you suggest is locking dudes up because someone thinks they are mentally ill.
Uh, no, that's not what he's suggesting. While the state of mental institutions in the late 70s was deplorable, they were not "locking dudes up". Heaps of resources are expended every year trying to replace them - but the hardest of cases, those that would require 24 hour monitoring, are near-impossible to reach, simply because the facilities to serve them don't exist any more.
#26
Old 06-22-2009, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
This is America, where you also have the right to be insane. What you suggest is locking dudes up because someone thinks they are mentally ill.
I think the matter here not taking rights away from the mentally ill, but providing an option to be able to care for the mentally ill instead of turning them back out the moment that they are medicated enough from an episode which has sent them to the hospital. If someone has consistently proved that they are unwilling to care for themselves by going off their medications, and no longer continuing counseling once they leave the care of the hospital, does this not prove that this person is a danger to themselves.

Unfortunately many of the mentally ill homeless are repeat visitors to the hospital and consistently go off their meds, and return to streets where it is only a matter of time before they go back to the hospital again. If there was a provision for committing the person to long term care - this pattern could be stopped, but currently once the person is reacting favorably to their meds and is "no longer a danger to themselves or others", they either kick the person back out, or allow them to leave.

I think these policies regarding the mentally ill have less to do with the push for "rights" of the mentally ill, than how much money the medical establishment can save by cutting treatment levels to cover only the emergency situations.

Even up here in Canada, I have seen a drastic increase in the number of mentally ill on the streets since I was there due to similar policies up here. If they can commit someone on a short term basis because of the dangers of their mental health, why can they not commit these people on a longer term basis to provide a real way out for them?
#27
Old 06-22-2009, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jackdavinci View Post
In threads about the homeless, it's often mentioned about them spending time at the library. I've never noticed this at my own libraries, but I've always wondered how librarians deal with this issue. The merely homeless might not be an issue, but extremely unhygenic people or people with mental problems could be awkward to deal with. What do they do?
Public libraries are open to everyone, so as long as the homeless person isn't being disruptive then they have as much right to use the library as anyone else. When they are disruptive things get more difficult. I haven't been in this situation myself (I'm a university librarian, and we only occasionally have homeless people coming in), but the usual policy for dealing with problem patrons (homeless or not) is to first ask them to settle down, then ask them to leave, and then if necessary call the police/security.

At the small college where I used to work a young homeless guy showed up one day during winter break. He was kind of creeping out our desk supervisor because he obviously wasn't a student or a campus employee and he just kept walking around the library. The library director and security guard talked to him, and I guess let him know that he could stay as long as he didn't make any trouble. He mostly just walked around or slept in the chairs in the reading area for the rest of the day. I think he maybe came back the next day too but after that we didn't see him again.

I went to library school at a university with a downtown campus in a mid-sized city, and homeless people showed up at libraries there much more often than at other places where I've worked. The most common problem with the homeless at that school's libraries was people using the Internet kiosks (no log-in required) to look at porn. Most of the names on the list of people barred from campus libraries were homeless people who'd become disruptive or violent after being asked to stop looking at porn on the computers. (Looking at porn in and of itself wasn't enough to get someone blacklisted.) A friend of mine who works at one of the campus libraries there now said they cut down on homeless porn surfers by removing the stools from the Internet kiosks so you have to stand to use them.
#28
Old 06-22-2009, 07:24 PM
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At the library where I work, the policy is pretty much that homeless people can stay as long as they like as long as they aren't disruptive. Having to call the police is pretty rare, but you do have to ask someone to leave every so often--usually when one mentally ill person gets in an argument with another one over the computers. One guy was really drunk once and snoring in the back, he had to leave.

Personal smelliness is not, IME, usually considered a reason to eject a person. I have helped extraordinarily stinky people use the computers, and washed my hands afterwards (the mouse was disgustingly grimy, but library professionals do not go "Ew, I'm not touching this!"). This was actually a topic of discussion in library school, since the smell can get pretty bad.

I've dealt with plenty of people with mental problems, of course, and unless they're disruptive they have as much right as anyone to use the library. There's one woman who tells us all about how she wrote all of Bryan Adams' songs during her career in Hollywood, but she can't remember the lyrics now so has us print them out for her. When she's off her meds, she talks about how the Mafia is after her. Once she gave me change with a live maggot along for the ride. This other woman asked question after question about finding the addresses of Pentecostal chapels in various small towns on the other side of the country, and wanted the rules for becoming a minister in that church. She has a dress saved up for her ordination. And so on...
#29
Old 06-22-2009, 08:32 PM
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Welcome to the boards, SmashtheState. Very interesting post.

The lady Dangermom describes sounds just like my mother in law when she's off her meds. (The Nazis are after her, though, instead of the mob.) I'm pretty sure the only thing keeping her off the streets is her daughter, who keeps tabs on her and gets her put (with some trouble) in a mental hospital when she gets too crazy. Unfortunately, even after a lifetime of mental illness and multiple long stays in the mental hospital, by law MIL has to try to hurt herself or someone else before they can take her in--it isn't enough that she's obviously off her meds. I know there are good reasons for that law, but every time she does a lot of other damage to her life and SILs sanity before she can finally be hospitalized.

Interesting thread.
#30
Old 06-22-2009, 10:32 PM
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You would have preferred a dead maggot, dangermom?

If they smell bad enough to be disruptive (and believe you me, there are some seriously disruptive smells in the world - I'm so hardened to them after four years of librarianship that something really has to reek for me to even notive it) our security will tell them they can come back when they don't smell like that anymore and suggest places they can go take a shower. It's really, REALLY bad on rainy days sometimes.
#31
Old 06-23-2009, 12:48 AM
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A federal appeal panel gave libraries the power to evict the homeless from the library if they weren't reading books, etc or if their behavior or hygenie offended the other patrons in 1992. I don't think the case was appealed beyond that.

"Library Wins in Homeless-Man Case"
http://nytimes.com/1992/03/25/ny...-man-case.html
#32
Old 06-23-2009, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Jormungandr View Post
A federal appeal panel gave libraries the power to evict the homeless from the library if they weren't reading books, etc or if their behavior or hygenie offended the other patrons in 1992. I don't think the case was appealed beyond that.

"Library Wins in Homeless-Man Case"
http://nytimes.com/1992/03/25/ny...-man-case.html
I would LOVE to have a hygenie!
#33
Old 06-23-2009, 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by dangermom View Post

Personal smelliness is not, IME, usually considered a reason to eject a person. I have helped extraordinarily stinky people use the computers, and washed my hands afterwards (the mouse was disgustingly grimy, but library professionals do not go "Ew, I'm not touching this!"). .
We had a policy that smelly customers/patrons could be ejected if another customer/patron complained about them.
#34
Old 06-23-2009, 01:49 AM
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You will be hard-pressed to find anyone that disagrees with you in the activist community. Why did you assume you wouldn't?
I wasn't aware of that. It seems like most disabilty activists are so focused on access to the (trumpet blare) MAINSTREAM(/trumpet blare) b/c it's so utopiaized, that they forget that not everyone can function well in the "mainstream" Every time I pick up a disabilty thing, someone's idealizing the mainstream as the perfect place.
Quote:
sounds just like my mother in law when she's off her meds.
Ugh....... Renee.....do you know if she has a very strong liking for bread and milk? There is some evidence that indicates that schizopheric patients who go off bread and milk get better at a rate something like twice the average, then patients that didn't do that. I can't remember where I read it so no cite (and no, it wasn't on one of those whackadoodle "woo woo" sites) Also maybe try supplementing with fish oil? I lurk at a schiezophernia message board (as I'm fasinated by mental illness) and they have mentioned that fish oil may help with sz.
Quote:
I think the matter here not taking rights away from the mentally ill, but providing an option to be able to care for the mentally ill instead of turning them back out the moment that they are medicated enough from an episode which has sent them to the hospital. If someone has consistently proved that they are unwilling to care for themselves by going off their medications, and no longer continuing counseling once they leave the care of the hospital, does this not prove that this person is a danger to themselves.
YES!!!!! And I mean they're living on the streets in squalor.......I dunno....I think mental hospitals etc can and should be more......communities where people can live and somewhat function despite severe mental illness
Quote:
Uh, no, that's not what he's suggesting.
*checks pants* Sorry dude.....I be an XX!
#35
Old 06-23-2009, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Jormungandr View Post
"Library Wins in Homeless-Man Case"
http://nytimes.com/1992/03/25/ny...-man-case.html
I'd love to know what he did with the 80 grand.
#36
Old 06-23-2009, 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Washoe View Post
I'd love to know what he did with the 80 grand.
As I mentioned before, I'm an organizer with the Ottawa Panhandlers' Union. One of our members, Bill by name, by severely beaten by three members of the Rideau Centre security, the largest shopping mall in Ottawa. His "crime" had been looking poor, and therefore suspicious. They grabbed him and physically frogmarched him from the building. When he re-entered and demanded to speak to their supervisor to complain, they jumped him and beat him.

Bill came to us right after getting out of the hospital. The police refused to press charges or even investigate (most of the Rideau Centre security are in training to become cops and, indeed, one of the guards responsible became an Ottawa cop a few weeks later), so we documented his injuries and had our lawyer file a lawsuit for $70,000 in Superior Court against the Rideau Centre. They eventually settled out of court for a cartload of money (I'm not allowed to state how much -- that was part of the deal).

At the time of the beating, Bill was homeless and living in a shelter. With the money he got from the lawsuit, he got himself an apartment and a vehicle. He was able to pay for his AZ license and got a job driving a truck. He is currently making $25 an hour, and is now a steadfast supporter of unions and our union in particular.
#37
Old 06-23-2009, 07:23 AM
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Good for Bill.
#38
Old 06-23-2009, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Khadaji View Post
An interesting insight. I wear my socks until they have holes in them, then throw them out. It never even occurred to me how this impacts the needy. Now I'll have to think about it a little - I may end up buying a boatload of socks for donation.
I've done that. It's dirt cheap and has a real, immediate impact. Homeless feet are often very fucked up feet. Shoes or construction boots are another good donation, if you have a few bucks to donate.
#39
Old 06-23-2009, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Khadaji View Post
An interesting insight. I wear my socks until they have holes in them, then throw them out. It never even occurred to me how this impacts the needy. Now I'll have to think about it a little - I may end up buying a boatload of socks for donation.
Just make sure that you buy the socks from a unionized factory so you can be sure of good working conditions and decent pay. You don't want to alleviate someone's misery here at the cost of someone else's misery two continents away.

Last edited by SmashTheState; 06-23-2009 at 07:49 AM.
#40
Old 06-23-2009, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by AboutAsWeirdAsYouCanGet View Post
I wasn't aware of that. It seems like most disabilty activists are so focused on access to the (trumpet blare) MAINSTREAM(/trumpet blare) b/c it's so utopiaized, that they forget that not everyone can function well in the "mainstream" Every time I pick up a disabilty thing, someone's idealizing the mainstream as the perfect place.
To be fair, not only will the activist community be pushing for more facilities dedicated to the mentally ill - they're also going to be pushing for that facility to be as integrated into the MAINSTREAM as possible. Marginalizing the marginalized is not a very good solution in any disability-related scenario.
#41
Old 06-23-2009, 01:25 PM
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All this talk of libraries and homeless people reminded me of when I worked in Tech Services for the Tulsa City/County Library System in the mid 80s.

We weren't allowed to deny homeless people the privilege of checking out books. Each library card had a designation on it... i.e. 'child', 'adult'. 'senior'. Homeless people's designation was 'transient'.

As often as not, we'd go have lunch and see a homeless person trying to sell a book he just checked out (or stole) from the library.
---
On a different note, You never wanted to go #2 in the library bathrooms because the stall doors had to be removed. It was becoming a problem for homeless people who would go into the bathrooms stalls so they could lock themselves in the stall and sleep on the toilet.
#42
Old 06-23-2009, 02:13 PM
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Homeless guy blog here:

http://thehomelessguy.blogspot.com/

Lots of insights into homelessness, mental illness, addiction, etc etc.

Last edited by HorseloverFat; 06-23-2009 at 02:13 PM.
#43
Old 06-23-2009, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Enright3 View Post
As often as not, we'd go have lunch and see a homeless person trying to sell a book he just checked out (or stole) from the library.
Yeah, but that would only work, what, once? and then the person in question wouldn't be able to check out books anymore. At least if your library system is anything like mine. (You aren't allowed to check out books if your fines are $5 or more.)
#44
Old 06-23-2009, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Shot From Guns View Post
Yeah, but that would only work, what, once? and then the person in question wouldn't be able to check out books anymore. At least if your library system is anything like mine. (You aren't allowed to check out books if your fines are $5 or more.)
And homeless people are always so awesome at planning for the future? Meanwhile you'd still be out a book.

ETA - or the maximum number of DVDs you can get at once. Which here is 60.

Last edited by Zsofia; 06-23-2009 at 03:37 PM.
#45
Old 06-23-2009, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
And homeless people are always so awesome at planning for the future? Meanwhile you'd still be out a book.

ETA - or the maximum number of DVDs you can get at once. Which here is 60.
Yeah, but that's how America works. We can't assume that people are going to commit a crime based on demographics. I don't know about you, but I prefer it that way.

And it sounds like the library needs to lower the maximum number of items they'll allow people to check out at once. Who the hell can watch 60 movies in a week, anyway? (Or however long you're allowed to check them out for there.)
#46
Old 06-23-2009, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Shot From Guns View Post
Yeah, but that's how America works. We can't assume that people are going to commit a crime based on demographics. I don't know about you, but I prefer it that way.

And it sounds like the library needs to lower the maximum number of items they'll allow people to check out at once. Who the hell can watch 60 movies in a week, anyway? (Or however long you're allowed to check them out for there.)
If you have a permanent address in the county (not a shelter), you can get a card here. We lose materials all the time from people who have no intention of paying their fines - they're certainly not all, or even mostly, homeless. Most people can get some sort of address, even if they have to use somebody else's. I'm not saying we shouldn't give out cards, I'm saying we lose a lot of stuff.

It's 60 items period - think about children's books and such. People were thrilled when we raised it from 30.
#47
Old 06-23-2009, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
It's 60 items period - think about children's books and such. People were thrilled when we raised it from 30.
Well that's silly, IMO. Why would you have one blanket rule to cover all types of media, when they have different replacement costs, resale values, and usage patterns?
#48
Old 06-23-2009, 04:27 PM
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The fines are higher for DVDs, and new books and DVDs only go out for a week. I'm pretty sure the total items allowed out is a software thing - too much work if the computer won't do it for us.

ETA - the point is, though, stuff like collections agencies don't work on people who don't care about their credit.

Last edited by Zsofia; 06-23-2009 at 04:28 PM.
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